My six year old son, William, recently decided he was going to go on a ride of which he had always been scared in the past: Splash Mountain at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. He asked if we could watch the ride together first, and after a few minutes, he said he wanted to try it. I told him that, if he changed his mind, we could get out of line at any point. While we stood in line, he kept asking me if the ride was safe and if I would have my arm around him the entire time. He wanted me to hold him while we were in line and he kept hugging me the entire time. At one point he teared up and started wiping his eyes from under his glasses. I asked him several times if he wanted to get out of line, and he kept emphatically saying, “No.” I said, “Bud, if you don’t want to ride on the ride, that’s fine, I don’t care. You do what you want, we can get out of line now and go get ice cream instead… but I promise you, I will not let anything happen to you.” Right before we got on the ride I asked him one last time, and again, he said, “No.”
When the weekend was over, and I was taking the children back to their mother’s house, he asked, “Dad, are you proud of me?”
I said, “Always.”
“No, I mean, are you proud of me, because I went on Splash Mountain?”
I said, “I am always proud of you no matter what, because you are my son. But, yes, I’m proud of you for overcoming your fear and trusting me and going on that ride .”
Those of you who are dads will understand (if you’re not, just trust me on this)… there is nothing my children will do that will make me any less proud that they are mine. I know them in ways no one else ever will, and I know why each one is unique and brilliant and creative in their own individual way. However, it brings so much excitement to see any of my children try something new, make a right decision, or overcome a hinderance. Why? Because I love my children. I don’t love them because of their goodness or behavior, or because they are the most intelligent children ever, or because they do something to impress me. I love them because they are mine.
God doesn’t love us because of our performance. He loves us because we are His. When we do what is right, He celebrates, because He knows we are ultimately doing what is good for ourselves. His love for us does not change because we attain a certain level of spirituality or holiness. He doesn’t love us more and He isn’t more proud of us because we don’t skip church or attend every small group meeting. He loves us because we are His.